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Help with sight and hearing impairments


Help from the Council

The Council's Sensory Support Team offers a service to people who are visually impaired or hearing impaired. A social worker can discuss with you what help you need. This may include mobility training and rehabilitation for people with visual impairments. All newly registered blind or partially sighted people will be offered an assessment at our sensory support clinic or if necessary, we will visit you at home.

The social worker with deaf people runs a weekly drop-in service. Sign language interpreters can be arranged in certain circumstances. There is also an Asian Deaf Women's support group.

Contact the Sensory Support Team

Phone: 01642 726004
Minicom: 01642 726980

Registering as blind or partially sighted

If you lose a significant amount of vision, you can get financial and practical help by being registered as blind or partially sighted.

Your GP (family doctor) may refer you to a consultant ophthalmologist, usually based at a hospital, who will give you a Certificate of Visual Impairment (CVI). There are five copies of this certificate. They will give you a copy of this, and send a copy to your GP and to Social Care's Sensory Support Team. When the team receive the certificate, they will contact you and give you information about registration. You don't have to register, but the benefits include free eye tests, free low-vision equipment and if you are registered blind you can get a reduction on your TV licence fee.

We will also discuss any practical difficulties that you may be experiencing with daily tasks including mobility and how we can help you.

Do you need help or special equipment?

If you have a visual or hearing impairment you can ask for an assessment of your needs from social care if you need support - or perhaps special equipment - to help manage your daily life.

After the assessment, social care will work with you to draw up a support plan, and they may agree a personal budget.

Hearing impairments

If you have a hearing impairment you should ask your GP for a referral to the Audiology clinic at James Cook University Hospital who may provide you with hearing aids. Should you still experience hearing difficulties even with hearing aids, the Department of Social Care may be able to provide equipment to help you live independently.

For hearing aid repairs contact the Audiology clinic 01642 854051 or you can call in without an appointment although you may have to wait a short while. Alternatively visit the Life Store in the Mall for information and advice.

Middlesbrough Bus Station's RNIB react system

As part of Tees Valley Bus Network Improvement (TVBNI), Middlesbrough Bus Station has now fitted RNIB react system at all stands throughout the station.

RNIB React is a talking sign system that enables blind or partially sighted people to be more independent. It helps the person confirm where they are and make choices about where to go next. When linked to real time information signs, it can also help people decide which bus they want to catch.

The system works by using a trigger fob. This fob may be carried in the user's hand, pocket or bag. When switched on, it automatically sets off messages as the user approaches speaker units along their route. Using the trigger fob, they can also get more detailed messages or real time information

The benefits of using React are one fob for all. It is part of a national network of talking sign systems. So you can use a single trigger fob in Brighton, Birmingham, Newcastle, Scotland and now Middlesbrough.

Fobs are available for purchase at £25.00 each from Middlesbrough Shopmobility, 1st Floor Car Park, Hillstreet Centre, Middlesbrough, TS1 1TE.

Demonstration of the system and how to use the fobs can be booked on 01642 728115 or by emailing:

From personal care to getting odd jobs done, from advice to coping with ill health, Middlesbrough Matters will help you find solutions to help you live independently, safely and in good health. Click here for further details.

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